Hackers Release Personal Information About 22 DC Police Officers


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A ransomware gang that hacked into the Washington Metropolitan Police Department released detailed profiles of 22 officers on Tuesday as part of an extortion attempt.

Records on current and former police officers are detailed and include personal information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, results of psychological assessments, copies of driver’s licenses, fingerprints, results of polygraph tests , as well as residential, financial and marital history. NBC News contacted two agents whose profiles were published using the phone numbers listed there and verified their identities. Both said they had not been informed by the ministry that their specific information had been viewed.

The department was first hacked in April. A ransomware gang quickly claimed responsibility and later published the profiles of five agents, then took them offline as they apparently entered into negotiations with the department.

But these negotiations seem to have failed. According to alleged correspondence with the ministry that the hackers posted on Tuesday, they demanded $ 4 million to stop posting stolen files. The department responded with an offer of $ 100,000, saying its “spending is tightly controlled.” The hackers replied that the counter-offer was “unacceptable”.

The hack is quite separate from the attack on the colonial pipeline and carried out by a different group, although both are Russian speaking groups. But both are part of a larger trend of ransomware attacks in which increasingly brazen organized criminals, usually based in Russia or Eastern Europe, hack into U.S. entities and demand money for them. unlock their computers or not post sensitive data.

Metropolitan Police Department profiles are each stored in PDF format for individual officers. Most are over 100 pages, and one is over 300 pages.

The ministry, which previously said it was aware of a cyber incident, did not respond to a request for comment for the story.

There have been more than 100 confirmed attacks against U.S. targets this year alone, including state and local governments, schools, financial institutions, healthcare organizations and manufacturers, according to analysis provided by the company. Recorded Future cybersecurity. Ransomware cost victims around $ 75 billion in 2020, according to an estimate from cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.

The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced Saturday he was infected with ransomware, shutting down some city departments. Another group hacked into a major Apple supplier in Taiwan in April and disclosed private and sensitive plans for Apple machines. Southern California hospital chain Scripps Health has been hit with severe ransomware attack since May 1st.

Philip Reiner, CEO of the Institute for Security and Technology, a San Francisco-based think tank that seeks solutions to large-scale cybersecurity problems, said that while ransomware has been a problem for years, gangs have recently realized how much money they can squeeze from certain American entities.

“It was already on a pretty horrific scale,” he said. But the ease of payments through cryptocurrency “allows for the volume of money that these people, I think, never realized they might demand,” he added. “So more and more people are getting started.”

The Biden administration has yet to release a plan to tackle ransomware gangs, but is preparing a formal strategy, the first of its kind, for an international plan on how to stop them and an executive order to improve the government’s cybersecurity. federal. Neither has been made public yet, but President Joe Biden himself publicly addressed colonial hacking on Monday.

Katie Nickels, chief intelligence officer at cybersecurity firm Red Canary, said recent ransomware attacks are finally getting enough attention that the United States can begin a slow process of trying to stop them.

“It seems like things are getting more and more frequent, but in reality it has been happening for years,” she said. “Over the past few years the number of ransomware attacks has increased, and over the past few months they are starting to gain visibility,” she said. “I think this colonial incident has ignited a spark.”

“I am optimistic that we will see changes,” Nickels said. “However, due to the worsening of this problem over the past few years, the number of stakeholders involved, and the different factors in deterring and stopping ransomware, I think it will take years to start doing a breach. . “

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